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Highlights: African Art

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Image of Fertility Figure or Doll (Akua Ba)

Asante Peoples

Fertility Figure or Doll (Akua Ba)

20th century

Object Type: Sculpture
15 in. x 6 3/8 in. x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 cm x 16.19 cm x 3.81 cm)
Medium and Support: Wood
Accession Number: 2013.0017.0002

Credit Line: Gift of Dileep and Martha Mehta

Asante "akua ba" sculptures symbolize ideal beauty and promote the birth of healthy children. According to legend, an Asante woman named Akua had been unable to conceive a child until a diviner told her to commission a flat doll with a high brow and even features that she carried on her back under her wrapper like a real child for nine months. She gave birth to a perfect baby girl. Subsequently Asante women have used Akua’s child or akua ba to insure fertility and to teach girls how to be good mothers.

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